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Still no motion on union law

120904_03

A proposed trade-union law would give tuk-tuk drivers and other informal workers the right to unionise and collectively bargain. Photograph: Meng Kimlong/Phnom Penh Post

As the latest draft of Cambodia’s long-awaited trade-union law sits idly at the Council of Ministers, Ministry of Labour officials have turned to outsiders to help hasten its enactment, a union advocate said yesterday.

Dave Welsh, country director of the American Center for International Labor Solidarity, said ministry officials had asked his organisation to lobby senior ministers to approve the law, which has been in their hands in draft form since November.

“Officials involved in this law have approached us and asked for our support,” he said.

Welsh said he would continue campaigning for the law to be introduced and was surprised at the lack of movement on the issue, especially after recent calls for action from Prime Minister Hun Sen, the US government and the “highest officials tasked with drafting the law”.

The trade-union law, in its latest form, would give the Kingdom’s informal workers, such as tuk-tuk drivers and motodops, the right to unionise and bargain collectively for better conditions.

“It’s one thing to draft a draconian law like [the first draft was] and not be able to get it introduced, but when you’re on the verge of drafting a progressive labour law and suddenly you go silent, it suggests you’re having second thoughts,” Welsh said.

Moeun Tola, head of the Community Legal Education Center’s labour program, said it was best that the government took the time to get it right.

“We have not seen the latest changes since the latest draft with the [unions],” he said.

“I think maybe we need more time to consolidate and discuss. But the law needs to be much better than the current [labour] law.”

Ke Sok Sidney, adviser to the Minister of Social Affairs, said he believed it would be better and wanted it to be introduced soon. “This law is strict for unions, workers and employers alike,” he said.

Oum Mean, secretary of state at the Ministry of Labour, said he was not aware of any recent developments.

Phay Siphan, a spokesman for the Council of Ministers, said he could not comment on the trade-union law.

To contact the reporters on this story: Shane Worrell at shane.worrell@phnompenhpost.com
Mom Kunthear at kunthear.mom@phnompenhpost.com

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